How did baseball become America's national pastime?
With Major League Baseball coming to London for the first time this summer, discover the place of the ‘field of dreams’ in American life.
American football may be bigger business; basketball’s stars might be bigger global icons. But no other sport has been as profoundly mythologised and woven into the fabric of American identity as baseball. As the Red Sox prepare to play the Yankees at the London Stadium, join our panel of experts to learn about the history of America’s ‘national pastime’, and the place of the ‘field of dreams’ in American social and cultural life.
Matthew Engel is a writer and journalist. The former editor of Wisden, he writes of losing his passion for cricket in favour of baseball, a game of ‘tactical profundity collapsed into three hours.’
Dr Daniel Bloyce of the University of Chester is an expert on the globalisation of sport and author of a paper, ‘That's Your Way of Playing Rounders, Isn't It'? which examines how the press responded to earlier attempts to bring baseball to these shores.
Professor Dan Kryder, a Fulbright Scholar with the Eccles Centre at the British Library in 2016-17, is the Louis Stulberg Chair in Law and Politics at Brandeis University, near Boston, where his research and teaching concerns the American presidency and social movements. He has written among other things Divided Arsenal: Race and the American State During World War II (Cambridge University Press) and was in the stands when Henry Aaron hit home run number 715.
Tony Pérez is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. As part of the legendary ‘Big Red Machine’, Perez won two World Series with the Cincinnati Reds in the 1970s. Inducted in 2000, he is one of only four Cuban-American Hall of Famers.
Claire Smith is an American sportswriter. In the 1980s, Claire was the first woman baseball beat reporter, subsequently becoming a columnist with the New York Times. In 2017 she was awarded the Baseball Writers Association of America’s highest honour. Claire currently works for ESPN.
Image: Boston Red Sox David Ortiz and Baltimore Orioles Ramon Hernandez, Monday 18 August 2008 © Keith Allison via Flickr
Sponsored by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library, in collaboration with Major League Baseball and the American Museum and Gardens.